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Latest posts by Italophile


Posted: 22/08/2013 at 10:45

No idea whether it appears in the book but I made a cold, fresh tomato pasta sauce t'other night to use a stack of ripe toms. It's essentially the doings for a bruschetta but turned into a pasta sauce.

Roughly chop your toms into bite-sized bits, taking out any core or tough bits. Add at least a quarter of a cup of EVOO. The amount of toms and oil depends on how many you're feeding. I used a quarter of a cup for two people.

Tear up a bunch of basil, add it to the bowl with a clove of finely chopped garlic and plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper. Give it a good stir and leave it for at least an hour for the flavours to combine. Don't put it in the fridge!

Cook your pasta. Tip the sauce into a dish large enough to hold all the pasta and sauce. Tip the pasta into the dish and stir very well to coat the pasta and distribute the tomato pieces. Leave it for a minute or two - stirring again a couple of times - for the heat of the pasta to warm the sauce slightly before serving.

No fruit showing on Butternut Squash in polytunnel

Posted: 21/08/2013 at 10:28

Pictures speak a thousand words. Here's a developed female flower on the end of an ovary.

It will probably open the next morning.

No fruit showing on Butternut Squash in polytunnel

Posted: 21/08/2013 at 10:24

Ging, the male flower is just a flower on a stalk. The female flower is on the end of what looks like a miniature version of the fruit. It's actually an ovary that will become a fruit if pollinated.

Male flowers always outnumber females. The female flower opens in the mornings - usually early - and will often close later in the day.

If you want to try your hand at pollinating, you need to get up early. Remove a male flower, trim away the "petals" to expose the stamen covered with pollen. At the centre of an open female flower is the stigma. Rub the pollen-covered stamen gently against the stigma to transfer the pollen. Don't be too vigorous. Damage the stigma and and all is lost.

You usually get a day or so's notice of the female flower opening. First, you see the ovary forming, then the flower forming on the end of it. When the flower is formed but still closed, you can expect it to open within a day or so. At that point, it's worthwhile checking every morning.


Posted: 21/08/2013 at 09:14

I'd have a crack at getting the roots out, too. If they're definitely dead, it should make removing them a little easier. And, if they're definitely dead, you can probably leave the deep ones - more than a spade and a half deep - in situ. I've got old dead roots under most of my beds.


Posted: 21/08/2013 at 06:59

These things happen, Mandy. Cherries should usually be the first to mature.

Dove - from the other thread, I look forward to hearing what you think of Soldacki. And Anna Russian needs a good slap occasionally to make it behave and stop taking over the garden.

I've got so many ripe toms that I made a raw tomato sauce for pasta with a couple of them last night. Delicious.


Posted: 20/08/2013 at 17:52

It's best to forget about temps, per se, and just water when required, which means monitoring. They will need more water in warmer weather, obviously, but the mix should never be permanently damp. It has to be allowed to dry out.

I've got a spare Cherokee Purple plant - grown from a cutting - in a container on the terrace purely to save seeds from this year. The pot is smaller than 25L. It's in full sun for most of the day and the temps have been mid- to high-30s. I don't necessarily water it every day. I don't leave it bone dry for two or three days but I let it dry out.


Posted: 20/08/2013 at 13:30

It sounds like the plant has copped a bit in terms of climate. I think that's probably the problem. I wouldn't take off any more foliage except, if need be, to keep the air circulating to minimise fungal problems.

I'd compost the blemished fruit. The blemish will probably only get bigger and deeper.

They shouldn't need fertilising every week. Toms do best when left to cope for themselves and even struggle a bit. I'd cut it back to every couple of weeks at most.


Posted: 20/08/2013 at 11:33

It's not BER, Bf. It's not blight either. That sort of purpling of the leaves is usually a sign of plant stress of some sort. I've had those sorts of patches on some of my toms this year. They're in the ground and temps have been in the 40sC.

What sort of temps are the toms getting and what's your watering regime?

No fruit showing on Butternut Squash in polytunnel

Posted: 20/08/2013 at 07:24

lbn, you make comfrey fertiliser from comfrey leaves. Soak them in water in a container with a lid for about a month depending on the temperature. The resultant liquid is then diluted before use.

Old compost mixed with water wouldn't have the nutrients you'd be looking for.

No fruit showing on Butternut Squash in polytunnel

Posted: 20/08/2013 at 07:17

Yeah yeah, Dove, famous last words.

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